by Sara Lewis

I recently heard a gospel choir singing “Let Your Little Light Shine” for a UU Children’s music CD (Sing-a-Long Album | Children-Youth ( with a verse that I was unfamiliar with:

Let your little light shine, shine, shine, cause there might be someone down in the valley, trying to get home.

As the solstice approaches and it is getting darker and darker, cultures around the world who experience this have responded with a multitude of small lights shining in the darkness. Those little lights wouldn’t be visible in the height of summer, but in these winter times they shine brightly and may guide us home, back to our peaceful center of hope and waiting.

In past years, that peaceful place of home would have included our OUUC sanctuary, for Christmas Eve candlelight services. The moment when we all hold small candles in our hands and sing “Silent Night” together is always magical for me.

This year we won’t be able to do that, but that won’t mean we can’t shine our little lights for each other. Our Christmas Eve service on zoom will be “BYOC”: Bring Your Own Candle/Chalice.

We can all dim or turn off the lights in our homes and hold up our candles on the zoom screen. This adaptation reminds me of my home practice of honoring the winter solstice.

The night of Winter Solstice (this year Dec. 20), my family will gather around our yule log and will turn off all our lights as we sit in the darkness. We will share thoughts on the dark, and then when we are ready we will light the candles on the yule log. We will talk about what we are hoping for in this new year, what little lights are guiding us. Then we race around and turn on ALL the lights in our home and play the Beatles “Here Comes the Sun”.

This ritual will have new meaning this year, as we remember that we shine our little lights because there may be someone down in the valley, trying to get home. The valley is the place of experienced darkness, whether that experience is literal darkness, or poverty, illness, worry, or loneliness. We will shine our lights as we are able, and guide all a bit closer to home.

So in these days before solstice and Christmas, we invite you to prepare your candles. If you want to make your own candle, we have some rolled beeswax candle kits, contact Anissa at to find out how to get one. You can also make luminaria with a tin can or glue tissue paper on a glass jar. However you do your candle or chalice, bring it to the zoom worship on Dec. 24th, and join us in letting our lights shine.

Pinterest board for candle making ideas: